The Man who Died Twice by Richard Osman

‘The Man who Died Twice’ was one of the most anticipated reads of the year. Like so many others, I had absolutely loved meeting ‘the Thursday Murder Club‘ last year and could not wait to find out what their next adventure would be.

This book did not disappoint – in fact, it is probably the definition of cosy crime on these cold autumn nights. Our fabulous four from book one end up on another rather wild adventure as Elizabeth’s rather charming ex-husband shows up and gets them involved in quite the diamond-related crime.

Absolutely no spoilers being shared here, because I want everyone to be able to enjoy the charm of this page-turner. Other than to say this book is like returning to old friends, and I loved that about it.

There is also so much charm to Osman’s writing. It is warm and witty – making it such an enjoyable read from start to finish.

And, of course, I now cannot wait for book three to be released, because Ron, Ibrahim, Joyce and Elizabeth are like old friends you can’t wait to catch up with and have a cuppa (or a sneaky glass of wind if the kettle is otherwise occupied).

One by One by Ruth Ware

Thrilling reads continue in October with ‘One by One’ by Ruth Ware. Even the cover of this book says thrilling read ahead, with its grey tones and isolated chalet.

Told from the perspectives of Liz and Erin, we escape to the chalet for a skiing holiday, combined with a business trip with the team behind a new music app ‘Snoop’. However, there is nothing relaxing about this trip as, one by one, members of the group are killed or disappearing. But why is this happening? And who is responsible? Especially when there is no escape.

Although the pace was a little slow to begin with, once it picked up, this became a book where you just needed to read one more chapter to find out what was going to happen next.

Definitely a good pick for these autumn evenings.

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

As we have hit Autumn, it is definitely time for spooky or thrilling reads. So, I decided to kick that off with ‘The Woman in Black’ by Susan Hill.

This book was a perfect October read. A really traditional ghost story with all the chills: a mysterious house, isolated on the moors, and a locked room – all the ingredients of a spooky set-up. Especially when you throw in the villagers that are not keen to talk about the house. You know there are going to be some thrills and chills ahead of you.

I do not want to present any spoilers for those who have not read it; however, the conclusion of the tale threw me, and that shows what a great read it is. I even stayed up past my bedtime to finish this book as I had to know the solution to the mystery – and then bam, the ending.

I will certainly be adding more Susan Hill books to my to-be-read pile, because she has started spooktober well for me.

Thursday Thoughts: The Tasting Notes Live

So, on the 2nd October I did something that I never, ever thought I would do – I attended a bookish event and I did not know anybody there. Well, other than from the little squares of book club or bookstagram. And, it was one of the best bookish days ever.

The brilliant Book Taster (Jenna) organised the most fantastic day at the beautiful Priory Theatre in Kenilworth. On arrival, we each received a perfectly bookish goodie bag (and I was so excited as I could fangirl over my ‘Evie’ badge – if you know, you know).

There were five fantastic authors speaking about their books (which, of course means that I have so many more books on my wishlist):

Matson Taylor

Marianne Cronin

Lucy Cuthrew

Katy Collins

Emma Cooper

Each was so entertaining to listen to, and engaged with the audience, even meeting the fans and signing books.

Jenna was a perfect host of the event. We had fun and games from the word go. There was also a fantastic bookish raffle with great prizes – from fantastic small businesses and great publishers. There was bookish merchandise and coffee, tea and treats to keep all our strength up.

It was real chance to feel part of a perfect bookish community. Spending a whole day with the bestest book buddies, I would love to do it all again. So, thank you Jenna, ‘The Book Taster’, for creating such a special event.

Blood Moon by Lucy Cuthrew

YA fiction is probably one of my favourite genres and ‘Blood Moon’ is an excellent example of this. And this is a book that is full of incredible messages and lessons for young people (and adults alike).

This book is written in blank verse and has a beautiful rythmn to it as you read it. But, this also makes the message clear and accessible.

‘Blood Moon’ is about period shame, the impact of social media on young people and sometimes not knowing how to handle a situation for the best. This is a book that should be read by all young people to support their understanding of growing up and some of its challenges. And many may think that this is a book only targeted at girls, but boys would find an education amongst these pages too.

Having been lucky enough to meet Lucy Cuthew at ‘The Tasting Notes Live’ event, I have more respect for this book an the positive motivation behind it. (And, Sara Pascoe loves it, which is pretty cool).

The Last Library by Freya Sampson

September’s pick for ‘The Tasting Notes Book Club‘ was ‘The Last Library’ by Freya Sampson. And this is a perfect book for a booklover; I mean it is a book about books.

The library is at the heart of the community of Chalcot. Quite a collection of characters congregate there everyday, for all sorts of reasons. June has known this community for most of her life and her mother was the librarian before her. However, now the library is under threat, are everybody’s lives about to be turned upside down?

This is another story that is like a hug in a book. You fall in love with all of the characters and find yourself really reflecting on the community areound you – do you really know everybody as well as you think you do?

It is another book that will probably leave you with a readling list. I certainly noted some titles but also absolutely can’t wait to read more books by Freya Sampson. And, yes, I shed some tears.

Freckles by Cecelia Ahern

One of my favourite authors is Cecelia Ahern. Ever since I read ‘PS I Love You’ cover to cover in one day (I have probably told you that before).

So, I was over the moon when ‘Freckles’ came out and I had another chance to have a little Irish adventure. And this was a wonderful adventure. Allegra Bird, ‘Freckles’, has moved to Dublin and meets Tristian. They may not have the most conventional meeting, but when it is suggested you are the product of the five people you spend the most time with, Allegra starts to re-evaluate her life.

Does Allegra have five people? Who really are the special people in her life? Or is this a chance for her to change her story?

This is a beautifully written page-turner. You almost want to become one of Allegra’s five. This story swept me away and, as I read the final chapter, I even shed a little tear. But you also begin to think about the five people in your life.

Simply put, this is Cecelia Ahern at her finest; creating a magical tale of fantastic characters that leaves you with that warm and fuzzy feeling. This is a perfect autumn read – and definitely an excuse to start reading the books of Cecelia Ahern.

Red Bones by Ann Cleeves

My next book in my ‘TV Detective Challenge’ was a trip to Shetland with Jimmy Perez. (Shetland has been a bit of a theme in 2021 – and I really hope I make it there one day.)

I really enjoyed this cosy piece of crime fiction. A tradtionalt piece of slow-burn crime fiction as we follow Detective Jimmy Perez investigate the death of an elderly lady in a small community, just after the discovery of human remains at an archaelogical dig. Is there a connestion between the two – are the red bones not as old as they seem? Or are they connected to a feud between two local families – are there secrets that need to remain hidden?

This is a beautifully constructed narrative. Where the landscape is as much part of the story as the characters that Ann Cleeves has created. This is the sort of book that should be read on a cosy evening.

This was my first introduction to the writing of Ann Cleeves and the character of Perez on the page. I will definitely be returning to read more, especially as I need to read about Vera too.

The Lucky Escape by Laura Jane Williams

What a perfect summer read – I mean, I know you should not judge a book by its cover, but this book cover certainly says ‘perfect summer read’. In fact, you should be reading this somewhere hot and sunny – or, failing that create your own summer escape. (Which the wonderful Book Taster helped us do this month with all our lovely goodies).

Anyway, back to the book. This book was a great read for the summer break. Annie’s wedding is called off – as she arrives at the church. For some, this could be the end of everything but, for Annie, it becomes a whole new adventure, because she takes her honeymoon anyway – with another man. On her Australian adventure, she takes the chance to re-evaluate life, and realise maybe it was all a lucky escape – and should she be following another path?

This is a light-hearted read with a big message. Maybe we do need to remember sometimes that we do not have to follow the path that society makes us feel we have to – I mean, afterall, one size does not fit all. But, also, you do not have to stick to the plans you have made.

I just found this book an enjoyable read and almost like a little holiday.

Looking forward to hearing all the book clubbers share their thoughts – and if they all want to rush off to Australia too?

The Duchess by Wendy Holden

I was lucky enough to be selected to take part in ‘The Duchess Readalong’ with Tandem Collective UK, and they kindly gifted me a copy of the book by Wendy Holden too.

I am always a little cautious of historical fiction, as I have known people to read it and take it as fact. However, ‘The Duchess’ had me hooked, especially as I do have quite a fascination with Wallis Simpson and her impact on the royal family.

This is a beautifully written book. Totally absorbing. And fascinating as this is really about Mrs Simpson before she became ‘the woman who stole our king’. If she ever actually was – the story will certainly have you questioning that popular culture view of her. This novel presents a very sympathetic view of Wallis Simpson, and I think that is what keeps you reading as you realise what a complex character she actually was.

You can also not read this book without falling down a ‘royal rabbit hole’. I was keen to find out more about so many of the figures of this book. And, as I was doing this, it was convincing me that Wendy Holden had certainly done her research to write this book – and the narrative throughout this novel also supports this, as this is not written to over-dramatise any of the events.

I reallt enjoyed this book and feel very lucky to have had the chance to read it. I am certainly keen now to read ‘The Governess’, as – let’s be honest – the British royal family is an institution that is full of stories.